Monthly Archives: August 2014

50: The big picture

The whole week I’ve been struggling with my birthday. I am really trying to focus on the reality of turning 50. It’s just a number. My 40s weren’t bad. In fact, they were pretty great. I think I’ve gotten bogged down in the stuff right in front of me. I’m referring to my post, Hiding from 50,  “I haven’t collected a check in nearly a year. I’m – bare minimum – 20 pounds overweight. I’m a terrible nonsmoker, and I think exercise is a wonderful thing other people do.” All true. But hardly the big picture.

The big picture: I started my own consulting firm in 1999. I did it so I could work for myself. My time is my own. I drove carpool. I manage our home. I taught college classes for three years. I volunteer. I serve on boards. So I haven’t collected a check in nearly a year. I’m not starving. I’m about to start a new venture mentoring a high school student who happens to also be in foster care. I love to have time to work in my garden, read books and play with my kitties. I like being available when someone needs a ride or a visit. And just because I don’t have any paid work today, that doesn’t mean I won’t have it tomorrow.

The big picture: I am at least 20 pounds overweight. But I’m not ginormous. I’m bigger than I want to be, and that’s my own fault. I need to eat less. I’ll never be one of those tiny, cute girls (or tiny, cute 50-year-old women) because I’m 5’10” tall. A size 10 is a dream. A size 12 is terrific. But I’m ok with size 14. Nothing bigger though. That’s my limit. And if my 14s aren’t fitting right, it’s on me.

The big picture: I hate quitters. Winners never quit. Quitters never win. When I “quit smoking” at the end of December, I hated the phrase, so I said, I “stopped smoking.” I did. For a bit. Then I allowed one or two a week. Then one or two days per week. Then I said, screw it, I’m not 50 yet. I said I would quit smoking when I turned 50. Stupid idea. But I’m in. So do I technically turn 50 on my actual birthday or the day after? Either way, I’m smokin’ tonight!

The big picture: “Exercise” is an eight-letter word… Twice as bad as a four-letter word. Or that’s what I’ve been saying for years. I hate exercise. I hate being winded. I hate muscle cramps. I hate sweating, and I can do that without moving a muscle. See, the thing is, I only do things I’m good at. I suck at exercise. I’m uncoordinated. I have NO stamina. I’m pretty sure I was born without the stamina gene because I have never had stamina. In freshmen P.E., when we had to run around the outdoor track, I couldn’t even make it a third of the way. And I was 13 then. The whole exercise thing is a conundrum. I don’t think it’s gonna happen. And I’m tired of feeling like I’m a failure because I don’t run or do pilates or yoga.

The big picture: Life ain’t all that bad. I would love to be a super-fit, five-foot-ten-inch, 150-pound, 40-year-old. But those ships have sailed. I can only be me. And tomorrow I’m 50. And I choose to be happy.

Fearing 50

My 50th birthday is looming like the mother of all New Year’s resolutions. See, my doctor tells me I have “cholesterol.” Whatever. I figure my blood is 30% cheese, 8% bacon, 7% tasty animal fat, 5% crispy fried flour drippings and 50% other. I eat many healthy foods. I just prefer many non-healthy foods. (Cheese IS a food group in my world)

I know I need to take better care of my bod. It’s the only one I have, etc. Yes, the cholesterol is probably something I should take seriously. I tried a couple of the pharmaceutical options several years ago. As it turns out, I have all of the side effects. Not just with the cholesterol meds either. I have a propensity for every side effect, for every drug. I regularly take three Rx meds. That’s enough. They aren’t currently causing any side effects, and I don’t want to take any more meds.

I told my doc I would start paying attention to the cholesterol after my 50th birthday. I already know the meds won’t do it. So in my head, there’s baby “New Life”… glaring at me… “You’ll be 50 on Saturday… No more cheese… No more bacon… Your life as you know it today is O-V-E-R.” And I honestly don’t know which is worse: Living an unhealthy life or the guilt of living an unhealthy life.

I have an appointment to see my doc next week. I don’t want to go. I don’t want her to give me that look… The one that says, “You told me you would get serious…” I don’t do guilt well. I don’t want to disappoint anyone. I want to do the right thing. But after five decades, I feel like an old dog. I don’t want to trade in my tasty Milk Bone for a carrot stick. I guess that’s where I always get stuck. Changing my diet doesn’t mean throwing everything out and starting over. No. It means being smart.

Ok. I’m gonna pull up my big-girl pants and stare 50 right in the eyes. I’ll eat less. I’ll consider exercise as something even I can, maybe, possibly, do. I will limit my cheese intake. I’ll drink less. But it’s not gonna happen overnight. It took me 50 years to get here. I guess it will take me a while to ease off my bad habits.

 

Hiding from 50

According to people who post statistics on the Internet, some 4 million Americans will be turning 50 this year. Notice I didn’t say, “FOUR MILLION AMERICANS WILL BE CELEBRATING THEIR 50TH BIRTHDAYS in 2014!” As someone who turns 50 in just four days, that seems a bit optimistic.

Don’t get me wrong – turning 50 is a lot better than the obvious alternative – but it’s making me feel all reflective-y. I’m almost 50. I have two college degrees and my own business, but I haven’t collected a check in nearly a year. I’m – bare minimum – 20 pounds overweight. (Realistically, who knows?) I’m a terrible nonsmoker, and I think exercise is a wonderful thing other people do. So lets break it down.

I do have two college degrees. I want a third: a Ph.D. I want to be Dr. Stacy. It’s a personal goal. I’m good at being a student. I like learning. I also need to pay off my grad school student loans. It’s only been five years since I finished that one. But wait… It took me 12 years to get my bachelor’s degree. (I graduated high school in May 1981 and college in December 1993.) Getting the master’s degree was a lot easier, starting in fall 2007 and finishing summer 2009. Told you I was good at being a student. Not as good at doing the math necessary to figure all of this out. In fact, I’m sure it’s wrong. Whatever. I’m a word person.

And it’s the word versus number thing that hangs me up. I would really like to study sociology. With a bachelor’s in public relations and a master’s in applied politics, I already study how targeted groups think and react to messages. Every time a Ferguson-type uprising occurs, I can’t help but think about why it happens. What compels people to think and act the way they do? How can we convince them to think or act differently? In other words, why do people riot, shop, vote, argue, whatever, they way they do, and how can we persuade them to do something else?

Another example… There’s a whole thing in low-income, urban communities, where new mothers refuse to use generic baby formula to feed their newborns. The brand identities of Enfamil and Similac are incredibly strong. In fact, a quick Google search on the topic pulls up a million results from mom blogs to the Mayo Clinic. Still, the need is nutrition for babies. The need is to show moms that (1) providing the best nutrition for your child is your first goal and (2) both name brand and generic-label baby formulas provide that nutrition.

I want to do something major. I want to be the driving force behind some huge group of people realizing they should do something differently. I NEED to do it. But I can’t go back to school because I can’t take the GRE. No. I can TAKE the GRE. I don’t believe I can PASS the GRE, or at least pass it in a way that gets me into a doctoral program. It’s the stupid math part of the exam. I can take – and ace – any word-related tests thrown my way. But when I start thinking of calculus or polynomials, my chest gets tight, my pits get damp and my stomach churns. I honestly have no idea what a polynomial is. I Googled “math on GRE” and saw it. At least I can spell it. And use Google.

Movies

“It was a drive-by fruiting.”

My husband and I quote movies – a lot. Old ones. New ones. Comedies. Thrillers. Movies – and movie lines – last forever. It’s too bad the beloved actors who play our favorite roles don’t do the same.

“Goooooooood morning, Vietnam!”

I’ve been tearing up off and on since learning last night that Robin Williams took his own life. He’s not the first actor to do it. But somehow his death is different to me. Maybe it was the extraordinary number of times my son and I watched Aladdin or Hook or Mrs. Doubtfire. Maybe it was the imScreen Shot 2014-08-12 at 2.38.38 PMpression left upon my psyche by movies like Good Will Hunting or Dead Poets Society or The World According to Garp. Maybe it’s because I watched the outtakes at the end of each of episode of The Crazy Ones.

“Let me take your order. Jot it down. You ain’t never had a friend like me.”

A lot of people on Facebook and media folks on TV are using Williams’ suicide as a chance to talk about depression. I get it. I have lived with chronic and sometimes debilitating depression for my entire life. But I don’t want the death of a comedic genius and the memories of his work to be watered down with a bunch of amateur psycho-babble.

“Gradual school is where you go to school and you gradually find out you don’t want to go to school anymore.”

So, I say to Robin Williams, I salute you. I appreciate your life and sincerely thank you for all the things you’ve given me and other fans. I am sorry for your pain.

“Carpe diem. Seize the day boys. Make your lives extraordinary.”